Bullets and the vacuum of space

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dkaakd

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If you fired a bullet from a gun in space would it work?<br /><br />Common sense tells me no, since there is no oxygen to allow the gunpowder to ignite. However, someone said that the shell casing is sealed and contains enough air to allow the initial reaction. <br /><br />I know that it is possible to fire a bottle rocket or black cat into a shimming pool. It will continue to burn and then explode under water, (which was really fun when I was a teenager). This led me to decide that either the fireworks were sealed enough to allow the material to burn, or a chemical was used that was water resistant enough to continue to burn. That said, there are already ignited when they enter the water.<br />
 
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vogon13

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Gunpowder contains all the oxidizer necessary to work. Gun would actually work better in space as there is no atmospheric drag on the bullet, it would retain lethality indefinitely, although aiming would become rather more difficult at longer ranges.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000"><strong>TPTB went to Dallas and all I got was Plucked !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#339966"><strong>So many people, so few recipes !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Let's clean up this stinkhole !!</strong></font> </p> </div>
 
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yevaud

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Somewhere in Earth orbit...<br /><br />*Flash of light, no Bang*<br /><br />37,926, 617 years later, in orbit around Epsilon Eridani IV.<br /><br />Vuzz is out on a spacewalk, and is shot dead. A real "who-dunnit." <br /><br />(Holey Moley that was funny! I originally used the name "K'rrr" - and then realized we have a user here with that name! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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drwayne

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Fascinating! I never tried that!<br /><br />Wayne <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>"1) Give no quarter; 2) Take no prisoners; 3) Sink everything."  Admiral Jackie Fisher</p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I know that it is possible to fire a bottle rocket or black cat into a shimming pool. It will continue to burn and then explode under water, (which was really fun when I was a teenager). This led me to decide that either the fireworks were sealed enough to allow the material to burn, or a chemical was used that was water resistant enough to continue to burn. That said, there are already ignited when they enter the water. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Cool. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> (You can tell the nerds here -- we're the ones who hear that and actually want to try it!)<br /><br />Any fire requires three things: heat, fuel, and oxidizer. Remove any one of those three, and the fire will be extinguished. All explosives and rocket motors, including fireworks and gun cartridges, contain exactly the right amount of oxidizer to acheive the desired effect, so you can't put them out by suffocating them. This is because they burn far too fast to get enough oxygen from the air without some kind of special machinery to feed them. You also can't put them out by removing the fuel; like the oxidizer, it's built in. So the only way to put them out is to cool them down. Dunking them in water will eventually cool them off enough that they'll go out -- but probably not right away. It'll also prevent spent fireworks from reigniting if there's some fuel left. (If they go out due to lack of oxidizer, there may still be fuel left.)<br /><br />Rocket motors, including the gigantic solid rocket motors on the Space Shuttle, work on the same basic principle. The fuel for the Shuttle SRBs is aluminum, and the oxidizer is ammonium perchlorate. (Actually, it also uses a third ingredient: iron oxide as a catalyst for the combustion.) Oxidizer doesn't actually have to be O2; it can be any chemical which contains oxygen -- or which results in something getting oxidized anyway (oxidized: to have oxygen added chemically to <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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phildo

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<br />If Fire requires heat, fuel and oxidiser to burn, what reaction would occur if you combined say a glowing red hot peice of metal, diesil fuel in a vacuum (or in space)? would this combination normally ignite in normal atmospheric confitions?<br /><br />Cheers<br />Phil
 
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pyoko

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The diesel fuel and red hot piece of metal together:<br /><br />On Earth: probably yes.<br /><br />In space: definitely not. There are no oxidisers in that reaction. Just heat and a reactive substance that works with oxygen in the air to work our cars. <br /><br />Although if, for example, you take a piece of potassium metal and put it in water, it will explode (sort of). And it doesnt need oxygen. If your metal is iron, I don't think anything will happen with diesel without oxygen. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p><p><span style="color:#ff9900" class="Apple-style-span">-pyoko</span> <span style="color:#333333" class="Apple-style-span">the</span> <span style="color:#339966" class="Apple-style-span">duck </span></p><p><span style="color:#339966" class="Apple-style-span"><span style="color:#808080;font-style:italic" class="Apple-style-span">It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.</span></span></p> </div>
 
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